The sweeping wings of a dragon or bat shine with the light of dozens of bright stars in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Explore the haze surrounding this young stellar group known as NGC 2040, or LH 88. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note below.
NGC 2040 is a loose star cluster. The stars have a common birthplace in this star cloud and will drift through space together. The cluster is known by astronomers as an OB association. These groups contain 10-100 stars of O and B type stars; among the hottest in the cosmos. Usually these hot and heavy stars have short but brilliant lives. After burning out their nuclear fuel in just a few million years, these stars will probably explode as supernovae. The stars lie in a supergiant shell of gas and dust called LMC 4. The shell is created as whipping solar winds from the new stars push gas and dust outward. Supernovae explosions also blow away surrounding gas and dust triggering even more star formation. Thousands of stars may form at the dense edge of these super bubbles.
NGC 2040 is found about 160,000 light-years away in a dwarf satellite galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud. Although the small galaxy is 100 times smaller than our own Milky Way it is home to some of the largest known star-making areas.
The faint body of a spider hides in a web of dark dust in this image of the Tarantula Nebula from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Explore the outskirts of this massive nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. What stories or images do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.
Located about 170,000 light-years from Earth, the Tarantula Nebula is the largest and brightest known nebula in the Local Group of galaxies; a group of nearby galaxies that includes the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the Andromeda Galaxy. The nebula is a vast star-making factory. It takes light more than 650 years to cross this nebula.
The wispy structures in this nebula glow in this image because new stars give off strong ultraviolet radiation which causes the atoms in the cloud to become excited and glow. Hydrogen gas usually glows red but scientists tweak the filters used on the Hubble telescope to bring out different details in different colors of light. In this image, hydrogen glows green. Eventually, as the gas is blown away from the new stars, clusters of stars, like the Pleiades, will be revealed.
Massive stars carve out deep cavities, blowing away gas and dust in the turbulent scene in the Large Magellanic Cloud in this infrared image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.
Zoom across the star-birth region of space surrounding R136. Dive into the swirls, peaks, ridges and deep hollows of this brilliant nebula. What stories or pictures do you see? Leave a note in the comments below.
R136 is a large, young star cluster. It is only a few million years old but already is home to some of the most massive stars known. Some of these stars are more than 100 times more massive than our Sun. These monster stars will explode into supernovae within just a few million years. Scorching ultraviolet light from these huge suns excites the atoms in the nebula causing it to glow. These stars also send out strong solar winds creating a bubble in the nebula and sculpting a fantastic landscape. While they move the gas and dust around, the winds create shockwaves within the nebula that may trigger the birth of new stars.
R136 resides within the 30 Doradus Nebula. This massive nebula is found in the Large Magellanic Cloud about 170,000 light-years from Earth. The LMC is a small dwarf galaxy drifting near the Milky Way Galaxy. The LMC and another small irregular galaxy, called the Small Magellanic Cloud, can be seen in the skies of the southern hemisphere.
The legs of a spider shine in the light of several million stars in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of 30 Doradus and the Tarantula Nebula.
This image offers loads for the imagination. What stories and pictures do you see floating in this nebular cloud? Leave a note in the comments below.
The Tarantula Nebula is a vast star-forming factory; one of the largest that we know. In earthbound telescopes, the sprawling clouds of gas and dust resembled the legs of a spider, giving the nebula its name. Explore the dark clouds, glowing gas, new stars and churned dust that make up the nebula. Recent supernovae, including NGC 2060 just left of center in the image, have sent tendrils of dust rolling through the nebula. NGC 2060 contains the brightest known pulsar. A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star, the super-dense core of the star left after the colossal supernova explosion scattered the bulk of the star into space. The churning stirs up the nebula, creating dense pockets of gas and dust that may one day glow as new stars. The colors in the cloud come from glowing gases. Hydrogen gas glows red. Oxygen glows blue.
The image, released to celebrate Hubble‘s 22nd anniversary, is one of the largest mosaics assembled from Hubble images. Because the nebula is close to Earth, Hubble can make out individual stars. This detail gives astronomers important information about star birth, evolution and death. Look close in the image and you can see baby stars still wrapped in their dark cocoons to giant stars that will explode in cataclysmic supernovae within just a few million years. In between, look for sparkling star clusters.
New stars shine throughout the image. The nebula’s rich supply of hydrogen fuels the creation of these new stars. Their blistering ultraviolet light causes the nebula to glow in red light. Much of the radiation that lights up the nebula comes from the densely packed group of stars called RMC 136. The cluster is part of a larger group of stars known as NGC 2070. This young star cluster contains about 500,000 stars.
The Tarantula Nebula lies about 170,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud toward the constellation Doradus. The LMC is a companion galaxy to the Milky Way Galaxy which is home to the Sun and the bright stars we see in the sky and is right in our galaxy’s backyard.